9th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy – Day 1

Max Blankfeld opened the conference with a welcome.  Max talked about competition making for healthy growth.  This has been the best year ever and there are great things in the pipeline. In June of this year, what started as an acquisition became something that could be a guarantee of continuity for Family Tree DNA.  Three new people have been added to staff.  Nir Leibovich is the Chief Business Officer, David Mittelman is the Chief Scientific Officer, and Jason Wang is the Chief Technology Officer leading the Engineering Department. Max got a little bit emotional as he talked about people who have been great supporters of Family Tree DNA who are no longer with us.  He stressed that he really appreciates what they brought to the company and most importantly, their friendship.  He also sent best wishes to Bill Hurst for a speedy recovery. Bennett stepped up to join Max to talk about group administrators who have been with them for 10 years or more.  Each of these group administrators will receive a plaque to honor their years of commitment. Bennett talked a bit about the lab tours.  Approximately 60 people in total have or will attend lab tours during this conference period.  Bennett shared the news about the CAP certification.  This allows the company to justify the acquisition of some expensive instruments that will be beneficial to the genealogical community. The first speaker of the day was Amy McGuire, PhD, JD, of the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine, presenting Am I My Brother’s Keeper?  DNA Identifiability and Obligations to Biological Relatives in Genetic Genealogy. ...

Get your DNA test here! A tour of the Family Tree DNA Lab

It’s that time of year again!  Genetic Genealogy enthusiasts have gathered at the Sheraton North Houston for the 9th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy.  This year lab tours were offered on Friday as well as Monday, which is great for those who plan to fly out on Sunday.  Bennett Greenspan, President of Family Tree DNA, welcomed our group to the lab. The lab at Family Tree DNA is a fully functional five or six day a week lab.  Our first stop was the Pre-PCR area where DNA has not been amplified.  Once DNA is amplified, it never returns to this area.  Our group put on lab coats and anyone with open-toed shoes put on booties. Bennett explained that all of the tubes have a red cap instead of the old tethered cap style.  The machine shown below automatically fills each tube with the buffer that allows the sample to sit for long periods.  The buffer arrests any potential for bacterial growth while the DNA is in the tube.  About 400 per hour can be produced by this machine. The next robot extracts approximately 600 samples per day during one normal shift.  Around Christmas time the process is doubled in order to extract 1,200 samples per day. The liquid handling robot takes DNA, puts it into a daughter plate, and puts a primer mix and a master mix in the well.  Master mix is a neutral solution and the primer mix might be for any of the Y-DNA SNPs that have to be used for a confirmation purpose. DNA samples that arrived yesterday or the day before that have not...

Autosomal DNA Tests for Parents?

I have already taken an autosomal DNA test.  Should I test my parent(s)? The answer is YES!  Absolutely! Because of the random way in which autosomal DNA is inherited, each child only receives a portion of each parent’s DNA.  The child is made up of 50% from the mother and 50% from the father but if no parents are tested, matches for that other 50% of each parents’ DNA will not be represented.  That is why it is so important to test parents first, especially if funds are limited and age or health could be a factor. At Family Tree DNA, my mother has 290 Family Finder matches in the database as of today.  Applying the “in common with” filter and selecting my name, there are only 116 matches.  Of my mother’s 290 matches, my results only reflect 116 of them.  This means that 174 maternal matches would have never been discovered without testing my mother.  Applying the “in common with” between my mother and sister only yields 108 matches, which means my sister would have lost even more genetic data than I would have if my mother and I had not tested.  Keep in mind, those “in common with” match lists that my sister and I have are not identical.  We have each inherited different bits of autosomal DNA and will, therefore, have some matches in common and some different. The reason that I tested my sister is because my father is deceased.  If I had a complete set of parental autosomal DNA, I might do my own autosomal DNA test for entertainment, but there would not be a significant...

The Results are In: My Mother’s Cousin’s DNA

Most of my maternal heritage is English and Irish.  My mother has many Family Tree DNA Family Finder matches for her autosomal DNA but I cannot tell whether they came from her mother’s side or her father’s side.  In order to try to sort this out, I need to test as many known cousins as possible. My mother has a first cousin who is the child of her father’s sister.  By testing K, as I will refer to her, I can find matches in common, which is often referred to as triangulation.  The only known common ancestors between my mother and her cousin K are James and Helen, their common grandparents.  Therefore, any segments that match between them should be inherited from James and Helen, their common ancestors. Family Tree DNA offers a tool called a chromosome browser, which can be used to examine common segments of autosomal DNA.  The chart above depicts the 22 autosomes of K.  The areas that are highlighted in orange are areas that my mom and K share identically in common.  The areas in blue are the areas that my mother’s brother shares identically in common with K.  As you can see, some of the shared areas are the same and some are different.  This is because of the random way in which autosomal DNA is inherited.  My mom and uncle both received a random shuffle of autosomal DNA from each of their parents. Any place where my mom or my uncle matches with K can be attributed to James and Helen.  If I had only tested my mom or only tested my uncle, I would have...

NERGC 2013 – Friday

Wow, today seemed to go on forever but I’ll try to give a quick recap before going to bed so that I can be back at the conference hotel in less than six hours.  Exhausting but totally worth it!  I’m not used to burning the candle on both ends like this but it’s not everyday that I get to see old friends and make new ones.  Please overlook typos tonight because proof-reading is simply not going to happen! This morning I was slated to volunteer at Registration starting at 7 A.M.  I was able to have a very nice conversation with Beth Mariotti, Director of Godfrey Memorial Library.  I am on the board of the Friends of Godfrey.  If you have not checked out Godfrey Memorial Library and the Godfrey Scholar website, you should!  Stephen Morse recently redesigned the site and it’s wonderful. Around 8 A.M. I received a message asking me to help with the mayor’s visit.  I was happy to be able to help by taking the photos during his visit.  I posted a few of those here earlier today. I finished taking photos just in time to get to Colleen Fitzpatrick’s talk, “The Secrets of Abraham Lincoln’s DNA.”  This talk was filled with many interesting facts.  Of course, I like anything that involves genetic genealogy so it certainly wasn’t a hard sell for me. After this talk, there was some unopposed exhibitor time.  GeneaBloggers took this opportunity to go to the designated area in the conference hall and have a meet and greet and get some blog posts published.  How fun to meet so many of our fellow...

Family Tree DNA announces DNA Day Sale

Family Tree DNA has announced its annual DNA Day sale.  This sale will focus on the FMS full mitochondrial sequence and Family Finder autosomal DNA tests.  With the implementation of The Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) for mitochondrial DNA, costs can be reduced without sacrificing quality.  Additionally, turnaround time can be reduced from 9-10 weeks to 5-6 weeks, or possibly even shorter if a sample is already in the lab. Sale prices are good until Monday, April 22nd at 11:59pm CDT. Full MtDNA       Sequence…. $189 Upgrades to FMS….$129 Y-DNA37 (new and add-on)…. $119 Y-DNA67 (new and add-on)…. $199 Y-DNA37 + Full MtDNA Sequence…. $308 Y-DNA12 + FF…. $218 Y-DNA37 + FF…. $288 Y-DNA67 + FF…. $368 Family Finder…. $169 Family Finder + Full MtDNA Sequence…. $358 SuperDNA….$388 (Y-67 + FMS) Comprehensive DNA…. $557 (Y-67 + FMS + FF) If you’ve been considering a test, now is the time! www.familytreedna.com...

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